Do government mandates actually work?
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience” (Romans 13:1-7 NIV).
The aforementioned scripture is periodically granted authority by a sub-set of the Christian community believing in absolute biblical authority relative to the political party in power here in America. Note the word “periodically.” And also the word “relative.”
These days much discussion among Americans centers around questions of government mandates in matters of public health. More specifically, the questions involve mandates to wear masks or get vaccinated or be tested prior to entry into public properties such as public school classrooms. And I’m hearing, strangely, from the same sub-set of Christians who only a few years ago insisted that Romans 13:1-7 applied to our national government that today’s government regulations and mandates will backfire and will not work. Why? Because we are a free country accustomed to liberty and choosing for ourselves rather than obeying a governing authority.
Wherever you may fit within such a discussion as this, or whatever you choose for yourself in response to government mandates like speed limits, stop signs, and tax withholding, I wonder if we shouldn’t shift the discussion from what Christians should do about government mandates to what Christians should do about Christ’s mandate.
There is one, you know, even though it often backfires and fails to work among freedom-loving Christians.
Goes like this: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).
What in the world could this mean if spoken by the God of Christmas who came to speak among us in the first person, as opposed to the second person prophets and apostles?
Well, what do you think it means?
Does “….love one another” mean our nation? Our political party? Our own friends or other tribal affiliation? Is “one another” a term of exclusion or one of inclusion? Is it meant for some or all, just the insiders or both those who are in and out? Both private and public?
I know. Now I’m meddling. I may as well be asking “who should stop at the corner STOP sign?” Some or all drivers? Public vehicles or both public and private? When mandates get in the way of our freedoms and liberties, what might we do if, say, we were to live in a Christian nation one day or, if biblical authority should apply, a one-world government called the Kingdom of God…….on earth as it is in Heaven? Could we actually get away with just loving those who believe like us? Isn’t that what Jesus meant?
Jesus is about to show up in person any day now. It’s what Christmas is all about. So let’s ask him? Do we really have to STOP (or to LOVE) when it seems perfectly safe not to?